Professional tennis' pretensions to the big time were blown to bits once again last week in Houston. Monday's first round for the River Oaks World Championship Tennis tournament was a virtual sellout, mostly because Arthur Ashe and Rod Laver had matches that day. But a few hours before he was to take the court against Fred Stolle, Laver informed World Championship Tennis that a morning promotional appearance at a local store would leave him insufficient time to prepare for play. To accommodate their No. 1 star, WCT postponed the Laver-Stolle match to the following day.
Ashe was to meet Ismail El Shafei, but as El Shafei was dressing to go on the court word came that Ashe was not even in Houston. Rumors said he was in Omaha for a promotional appearance there. Like Laver, Ashe was not obliged to default. His match against El Shafei was merely shifted to another day when it would not conflict with his personal business.
No effort was made to compensate the short-changed paying customers. Instead, side-court matches featuring Owen Davidson and Tom Leonard were moved to the grandstand. As if to add insult to the fans' injury, Laver came out and practiced on a side court.
It becomes increasingly difficult to care who wins the tennis war, especially since it appears that no fans will be left if ever a verdict is reached. In the meantime customers in tour cities might do well to wait at least until Tuesday before digging down for admission money.
George Allen of the Redskins invited Darrell Royal of Texas and Royal's defensive coach, Mike Campbell, to Washington recently to talk about the Wishbone T. Pro teams have shown only slight interest in the Wishbone as a possible offensive formation, and all Allen wanted to know was how to stop it, just in case any of his opponents chance to spring it on him.
After returning to Texas, Campbell suggested that the pros might be wise to adopt the Wishbone. Commenting on the pro scoring drought (100 fewer touchdowns in 1971 than in 1969), he said, "The worst thing the pros do is score from inside the five-yard line. People say that's because the defenses are so much better. Maybe so. But some of it may be poor offense. When they use only two backs the way they do, there's nobody to block."
So the three-back Wishbone may be the answer, no matter how emphatically the professionals dismiss it.
A list of currently popular recordings in Great Britain has something called The Chelsea Football Team, singing Blue Is the Color, in the No. 4 spot. Blue happens to be the color of the stripe in the uniform of London's Chelsea soccer club (SI, May 11, 1970), and the singers on the record turn out to be just what the label says: the Chelsea football team. Thinking of the buying public, a recording executive said: "Let's hope they think Chelsea is a new group, and I might have an international hit. With a bit of luck they'll never realize they're singing through their boots."